As Petersburg, Virginia teetered on the brink of disaster, and Union forces managed to destroy its final supply line, plans were made for the evacuation of the Confederate capital at Richmond. Jefferson Davis and his entire cabinet packed up all records, contracts, documents, and Confederate treasure, and boarded a train on the last available railroad toward Danville, Virginia.
As Confederate military forces fled, they set fire to bridges, armories, and supply warehouses. Such fires spread out of control and ultimately destroyed large parts of the city. Union soldiers would extinguish the fires after the mayor officially surrendered the city.
On April 4th, President Lincoln traveled from Grant’s headquarters at City Point to tour the dystopian city. Upon his arrival, he was greeted by throngs of now liberated slaves who treated him as a God or idol. Lincoln eventually made his way to the White House of the Confederacy, the headquarters of the Confederate government and Jefferson Davis. Lincoln is said to have sat in the office chair of Jefferson Davis before touring the house, which was spared from the flames that melted much of the rest of the city.